Current News about Constitutional Amendment Proposals
By Stuart MacPhail – February 2021
- In a January 10 column carried by the Colorado Springs, Colorado Gazette, former Iowa State Senator Neal Schuerer answered the question: Is it time for an Article V Convention of the States? He answers affirmatively by saying, “We all agree that something is broken: it is self-evident that our voices are not being heard and that our national government no longer serves us but itself.”
Senator Schuerer says, “Such a convention would likely be a series of official meetings where commissioners from all fifty states gather to discuss ideas, debate solutions, and propose amendments to the United States Constitution. Then we the people, through our elected representatives, will be able to consider and approve the solutions. Amendments proposed by the convention would require ratification by three-fourths of the states to take effect.” Read his opinions HERE.
- Pennsylvania Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, a member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, has announced that he will sponsor bills proposing three constitutional amendments geared toward “a rebirth of belief in our leaders and our institutions.”
His proposals include: Term Limits for Members of Congress (HJRes6), a No Budget, No Pay act, and a Balanced Budget Amendment (HJRes8). He said he will also be offering a series of other “reform” bills. Read about his proposals HERE.
- As the 117th Congress convened, Florida Congressman Vern Buchanan reported that he has filed 10 bills and said, “2021 will be a year of recovery and rebuilding.”
Buchanan said he will be renewing his call for a constitutional amendment to ensure a balanced budget, backed with his “No Pay Raise for Congress Act” which would ensure members of Congress would not be eligible for pay raises if they fail to pass a balanced budget. His proposals did not have bill numbers at press time.
Actually, the 117th Congress already has three resolutions filed which call for a constitutionally-mandated balanced budget (HJRes3 with 28 co-sponsors, HJRes8 and HJRes13). All are exclusively backed by Republicans. The 116th Congress saw a dozen such resolutions filed. None of these proposed constitutional amendments stand a ghost of a chance of moving forward. But they keep the folks happy back home.
Meanwhile, BBA activist Mark Guyer is quietly working to motivate legislators in Idaho, Montana and South Carolina to adopt resolutions calling for a convention of states that would propose a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
At the start of the new year the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) reported that the national debt is now larger than the economy (GDP). CRFB also released their “Top 20 (Debt/Deficit) Charts for 2020.” Find them HERE.
A related opinion piece in the Bangor (Maine) Daily News says We’ve stopped caring about the deficit. The author, Matthew Gagnon, the CEO of the Maine Policy Institute, doesn’t really believe that sentiment. Rather, he asks, “When, exactly, did we stop caring about the national debt?” Read his thoughts HERE.
- Advocates of the Convention of States Project (CoSP) have recruited Nebraska State Senator Steve Halloran and 16 other state senators to re-introduce their proposed 3-topic resolution calling for a convention of states (LR14). Read about their efforts HERE.
Missouri State Senator Eric Burlison has introduced SCR4, another effort aimed at getting Missouri to join the other 15 states which have adopted CoSP applications.
- Separately, Missouri State Senator Bill White has introduced SCR1, a proposed constitutional amendment “to give states the authority to repeal a Federal rule, regulation, or statute, or a Federal court ruling relating to certain federal actions, when ratified by the legislatures of two thirds of the several states.” Read about that effort HERE.
- In early January, Phil Blumel, President of US Term Limits announced that HJRes12, the term limits for Congress resolution, was introduced in Congress. It was introduced with Congressman Ralph Norman as prime sponsor, along with 36 co-sponsors.
Meanwhile in Kentucky six State Representatives have introduced HJR27, the US Term Limits bill. Iowa State Senator Zach Whiting is reportedly planning to introduce a similar bill in Iowa, and on January 14 three South Carolina legislators filed a similar bill.
- According to The National Pulse, on January 11 US House Democrats introduced a resolution that was immediately referred to the House Judiciary Committee. The resolution proposes a constitutional amendment that would abolish the electoral college and provide for the direct election of the President and Vice President.
The report claims the bill was authored by 8 House Democrats. It is reported to seek the addition of 7 new sections to the Constitution. Read the proposal HERE.
- On January 9 Ramon Buhler announced that the Republican National Committee (RNC) has endorsed the proposed Keep Nine Amendment (SJRes 76), the Congressional proposal to make nine Justices the constitutionally approved number to serve on the high court. He reports backing by 15 US Senators and 37 Congress members so far.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has developed a model application for state legislators to use to seek an Article V convention of the states that would propose the Keep Nine Amendment. A copy of that model application is HERE.
SIDE NOTE: On January 27 Buhler reported that Google had blocked the ads placed by the Keep Nine campaign.
- Constitutional amendment expert Gregory Watson says the ERA may have new life. In an article published on January 11 by Texas Scorecard, Watson takes recent election results into consideration and concludes, “efforts on the political left to jury-rig the long-expired 1972 proposed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) into the United States Constitution [might yet be accomplished] by highly questionable means.”
In his article Watson outlines the steps that ERA advocates have taken in recent years, and the steps current members of Congress are taking. Those actions still don’t deal with the question of several states having rescinded earlier ratifications. Read his analysis HERE.
Meanwhile, on January 22 the Outside the Beltway blog published a related story by James Joyner entitled Congress Pushing to ‘Ratify’ ERA by Fiat. He points out that a bipartisan effort in the US Senate is supporting the US House drive to eliminate the 7-year (later extended an additional 3 years) deadline for ratifying the 49-year-old ERA proposal. Read it HERE.